Friday, July 24, 2009

The mysterious sound of Memory Cassette

Listen to “Surfin’”—the opening track of Memory Cassette’s first EP, Rewind While Sleeping—and you'll hear Cocteau Twins-esque vocals skimming the surface of electro beats, chased by blissfully pretty keyboard melodies surging into a coda like a cresting wave. In less than three minutes, it’s simultaneously joyful and sad, energetic and serene.

I was hooked on first listen. I remember wondering, who are these people? Where can I find more? And—strangest of all—how is music this good being given away for free over the internet?

A rarity even in this era of web-based listening, for a year or more Memory Cassette pretty much only existed online. Though they won fans in bloggers like Gorilla vs. Bear, the band didn’t have a record deal, a physical release, tour dates, or even real-life identities. New tracks showed up on the blog of a mysterious New Jersey resident known as Weird Tapes, the mastermind of a musical holy trinity consisting of Memory Cassette, Weird Tapes (haunting sample-driven electronic music, great remixes), and the newly incarnated Memory Tapes (Memory Cassette’s dreamy atmospherics combined with New Wave-like male vocals and a dance-pop sensibility).

All three are excellent, but Memory Cassette is definitely my favorite. And this month they actually have a record out--Call and Response, their debut 7” on Acephale Records/Sincerely Yours. It includes “Surfin’,” as well as my other favorite, “Asleep at a Party”, with its woozy, gentle melody and background voices hovering at the edge of consciousness. Just like Rewind while Sleeping, Call and Response is only four songs—but these four songs are more beautiful, more carefully crafted, than most complete albums I’ve heard this year.

And in signature fashion, more music has just surfaced on Weird Tapes’ blog as well: a free remix EP, Calls and Responses, which features contributions by Sail a Whale, Friend, CfCf, and more.

Who are Memory Cassette? I’m still not sure. But I recommend you just download it, listen, and enjoy the mystery.
-Anna K

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